Handcart Trekking: From Commemorative Reenactment to Modern Phenomenon

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Handcart Trekking: From Commemorative Reenactment to Modern Phenomenon

Author Melvin L. Bashore

Youth groups in many LDS wards and stakes currently participate in a handcart trek. These events teach young people about Mormon pioneer history and strengthen their faith. While the widespread modern practice of treks can be credited somewhat to the 1997 pioneer trail reenactment, reenactments have their roots in Pioneer Day parades and reenactments and in activities begun in the 1960s, when leaders were looking for meaningful activities for their youth. The article reports a 1966 Boy Scout trek that traced the last 36 miles of the trail into Salt Lake City and a 1968 group of Campcrafter young women who also followed the last miles of the trail. In the 1970s, BYU offered a handcart trekking program for LDS youth conference groups, and from these events the practice spread throughout the western United States. Now the Church supports trek experiences by providing locations and guidebooks for these activities.